FT Online

Published:
2020-01-30 15:51:09 BdST

Change in BERC bidding process confuses transformer suppliers


A sudden change in the bidding process by Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) has put transformer suppliers in a dilemma which may lead to the use of substandard products in its power distribution project and encourage unfair practices.

Official sources say BERB received tender bids on September 30 last year for the supply of transformers from bidders for its project ‘1.5 Million Consumer Connection through Rural Electrification Expansion (MCCP)’.    

A number of companies participated in the process and finally TS Transformers Limited became the lowest bidder in three sub-packages and Confidence Electric Limited (CEL) became the lowest in one sub-package.

In the tender document’s technical specification, it was mentioned that both CRGO and amorphous metal will be allowed to be used in manufacturing transformer core.  

But a technical evaluation committee (TEC), during its evaluation process, decided that it would not purchase any transformer made of amorphous metal.

This has put TS and CEL in a great trouble.

Industry insiders said if such an issue is not resolved immediately it may encourage further unfair practice in the purchase of transformers and other goods in rural electrification process.

TS wrote to the Power Division to complain about such unfair practice of the BERB. It urged the government to ensure fair practice in the bidding process.

It alleged that the BERB decision was an ill-motivated one aimed at favouring two contesting second lowest bidders.

TS claimed that two local firms became second the lowest bidders which belong to a close relative of a top executive of the BREB and that has actually influenced the TEC to take such a decision about the transformers.

The company said the decision is contradictory to a previous BREB decision as it had already purchased 90,000 amorphous metal made transformers from Indian manufacturer Toshiba in the last few years.

But BREB Chairman Moin Uddin rejected the allegation of favouring any particular bidder, saying that they have decided not to purchase amorphous metal made transformers because they lack maintenance mechanism.

“Moreover, this type of transformers will cost relatively higher than CRGO transformers,” he said. “But still the bidding process is not closed and no bidder was disqualified.”

He parried a direct reply when asked about his relation to the competing bidders, saying the companies have been doing business with BREB for a long time and there is nothing wrong to get any business through bidding.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said he was unaware about the allegations.

“Making any change in the bidding terms after the evaluation process would be a gross violation of the bidding system ... we’ll examine the matter once it comes to us, and take decision as per the rules,” he told.

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